Summer 2007 News Tips

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

Three-part attack key to dropping ‘in time for summer’ weight

For many vacationers, the looming summer beach season spurs a need to quickly drop a few pounds to squeeze into a swimsuit or look a tad more jaw-dropping.

But many people endanger their health by starving themselves.

Actually, a great way to lose 10 or so pounds over a few weeks is to do three things — ensure your meals feature a “healthy plate” of food, exercise and enlist help from a buddy, says Dr. Jo Ann Carson, a registered dietitian at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“You can make a concerted effort to lose weight for a shorter period of time, but it takes a structured plan, and you need to realize it’s not realistic to lose more than two pounds a week,” Dr. Carson says. “Starving yourself is not healthy because it slows your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. Eat several small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism high.”

The first part of Dr. Carson’s suggestions to lose weight fast and healthy is to make sure you eat a “healthy plate” — half a plate of low-carbohydrate veggies, a quarter of a plate of high-fiber carbohydrates and another quarter of a plate of lean protein.

Low-carbohydrate veggies include broccoli, green beans and other leafy greens. High-fiber carbohydrates include dried beans, whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes and fruit.

Lean protein can be chicken, salmon or lean beef.

“Be sure to eat smaller portions and don’t skip meals,” Dr. Carson says.

Next comes exercise. Take a walk after a meal or exercise during TV commercials.

Strength training to build muscle is also a good idea — if you lose only five pounds but turn another five pounds of fat to muscle, you’ll look better in a swimsuit, Dr. Carson says.

The third part is getting help from a buddy who follows the same exercise and eating plan.

“These tips can help you lose weight in the short term, but, remember, everyone trying to lose weight should strive to keep the weight off with long-term behavioral and eating changes,” Dr. Carson says. “Regaining lost weight is very unhealthy.”

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

Want to save lives this summer? Give blood

The heavily traveled summer vacation season usually goes hand-in-hand with a rise in vehicle accidents, increasing the need for blood donations, blood experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center say.

However, only about 5 percent of eligible Americans give blood, statistics show.

Just one donation of blood can help many people — a person who loses blood in a roadway wreck, a small child receiving cancer treatment, or an elderly woman getting hip replacement surgery that requires a transfusion — says Dr. Ravi Sarode, professor of pathology and director of the Transfusion Medicine and Coagulation Laboratory at UT Southwestern.

“One of the easiest ways to save a life is by donating blood,” Dr. Sarode says.

Volunteers are the only source of blood, as no artificial blood exists.

Millions of pints of donated blood are used each year to treat accident victims, surgical patients, organ transplant recipients and others. But the red blood cells, platelets and plasma have a limited shelf life. Red blood cells can be stored for six weeks and plasma frozen for a year, while platelets last only five days.

“People can donate blood every eight weeks and platelets every four weeks,” says Dr. Sarode.

Individuals who want to donate should contact an area blood supplier, such as Dallas' Carter BloodCare or the American Red Cross, for an appointment. For anyone looking for a blood bank, visit the American Association of Blood Banks' Web site at Donors must be healthy, at least age 16, at least 110 pounds and meet other requirements.

Ensure food preparation safety during summer’s grilling season

Memorial Day weekend starts the summer season of outdoor barbecue cookouts and picnics for many people, but unsafe food preparation or handling can spoil the fun, says Dr. Vickie Vaclavik, a registered dietitian at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Vaclavik suggests these tips for safe, healthy cookouts:

  • Make sure grilled meats are cooked to at least 145 degrees and poultry to at least 160 degrees. Keep an inexpensive meat thermometer for your grill to monitor temperatures.
  • Foods spoils fast when outdoor temperatures rise into the 80s, 90s and 100s, so be sure to not leave out dairy products, cold cuts and raw meat for longer than one hour.
  • Pack plenty of ice in coolers to store raw and/or leftover foods.
  • Leftovers should be refrigerated within an hour of cooking during hot weather.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after you’ve handled raw meat or food.
Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

Stay hydrated with the right types of liquids

The excessive heat of summer triggers your body to cool itself by evaporating sweat, increasing its need for fluids, says Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Ms. Sandon urges these tips to stay hydrated when working or exercising outdoors:

  • Drink plenty of water. Six to eight 8-ounce servings of water is a good goal, but more is required if you’re exercising or working in hot weather.
  • When working outdoors, keep a bottle of water with you and keep drinking as you work. By the time you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.
  • If you are exercising or working outdoors for more than 90 minutes, you should have a sports drink to replace fluid and sodium lost through sweat.
  • Avoid drinks that don’t replenish bodily fluids, such as tea, carbonated sodas, beverages that contain alcohol, etc.

“Dehydration can become dire quickly, resulting in weakness, exhaustion, delirium or worse problems,” Ms. Sandon says. “So it’s very important to stay hydrated in the hot weather.”

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.


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